Roger Waters at Rogers Arena, 10/28/17
Roger Waters appeared exuberant in front of the rabidly excited Rogers Arena in Vancouver last Saturday (Oct. 28). The bass player and brainchild behind much of Pink Floyd’s iconic and immortal works, Waters led an impressive 8-piece band as the Us & Them tour, drawing particular focus to Pink Floyd’s most celebrated works such as Dark Side of the Moon, Animals, Wish You Were Here and The Wall. With a more than loving use of high-grade, ground-breaking stage technology, Waters continues the Pink Floyd reputation for an incredible stage show.
As the stage lights went dark and thick, unsettling sound collages and samples of a familiar english voice established a tone of palpable chaos just before the darkness was interrupted by beams of stage light – this illuminated a more than well equipped eight-piece band. Waters’ most recent album effort, Is This The Life We Really Want?, demonstrates the writer’s continued concern with the greater human condition; an album sample was used as the opening music, which drastically cut out as the first note of “Speak to Me.” Nearly 18,000 people rose to a standing ovation. It’s not everyday that selections of one of the most important works may be experienced with such sonic perfection. For many concert goers in attendance selections from Dark Side of the Moon were not only heard but felt in full.
While it would be a special treat to see the original members of Pink Floyd, the Waters-led executions of the Pink Floyd catalogue hit the music with perfect calibre. Originally a four-piece, the extended band probably played the music as well or better than the original band ever could. Roger Waters’ vocals was tinged with unforgettable english mannerisms. Tastefully dividing the evening’s setlist between revered classics and a few new cuts, Roger Waters found balance between rehashing old material and satisfaction through his newest material, undoubtably strengthening Mr. Waters’ enthusiasm.
On “Deja Vu,” Waters showcased one of his strongest songs from his 2017 record with crisp, dim and hard hitting lyrics; “If I had been God I would have sired many sons and I would not have suffered the Romans to kill even one of them.” Accessible, profound and universal in scope, Waters’ lyricism ought to be a welcomed vehicle of discussion with the world’s current wobbly politics and weak political discussions.
Roger Waters is no stranger to free speech or discussion. Tens of millions of fans might balk and regard political content in music as an unnecessary contamination of musical entertainment. However, Rogers’ attitude itself is unflinching. Mr. Waters spoke to hundreds of human-rights minded Vancouverites last Thursday in an interview concerning activism, art and music. Responding to a question concerning the separation of art and music, Mr. Waters could not have been more concise: “Should Picasso not have painted Guernica? That’s just dumb.”
The Us & Them tour epitomizes the pinnacle of the modern stage show featuring, of course, the classic Pink Floyd materials like “One of These Days,” “Dogs” and “Pigs” (which featured an onslaught of satirically slamming cartoons of America’s much maligned president). The presence of politics in music largely corresponds with periods of high artistic excellence; the golden era of the ‘60s music is notable for both being political and a musical high-water mark. The contemporary slump in art could be partially explained by the absence of politics and the human experience in mainstream music.
With top notch sound-mastering and a relentless, mind-bending attack of complex digital projections elevate the Us & Them show to one of the most all encompassing and memorable performances any concert goer is likely to see. Closing with “Mother” and “Comfortably Numb,” an awestruck audience funnelled out of the arena in blissful disbelief. Roger Water’s Us & Them is a triumph of classic rock music – a dizzying showcase of modern stage design and celebration of hope and timeless humanity.